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Life in Christ

533

II.

T

he

F

amily and

S

ociety

2207

The family is the

original cell of social life.

It is the natural

society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in

love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relation­

ships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, se­

curity, and fraternity within society. The family is the community

in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to

honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initia­

tion into life in society.

2208

The family should live in such a way that its members learn

to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the

handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at

times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other

persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide

for their needs: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God

and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction

and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

12

2209

The family must be helped and defended by appropriate

social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities,

other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of support­

ing the institution of the family. Following the principle of sub­

sidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the

family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.

2210

The importance of the family for the life and well-being of

society

13

entails a particular responsibility for society to support

and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should

consider it a grave duty “to acknowledge the true nature of mar­

riage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public

morality, and promote domestic prosperity.”

14

2211

The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist

it, and to ensure especially:

the freedom to establish a family, have children, and bring them up in

keeping with the family’s own moral and religious convictions;

the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution

of the family;

the freedom to profess one’s faith, to hand it on, and raise one’s children

in it, with the necessary means and institutions;

12

Jas

1:27.

13 Cf.

GS

47 § 1.

14

GS

52 § 2.

1880

372

1603

1883